Seeds of Dis­con­tent

Schemes like PM-Kisan are only band-aids; struc­tural re­form alone will help farm­ers’ in­comes dou­ble

India Today - - WATER -

The Jour­ney So Far

The PM-Kisan scheme (Rs 6,000 per year as min­i­mum in­come sup­port) has been ex­tended to cover all farm­ers. By Au­gust 29, three in­stal­ments had been re­leased: the first in­stal­ment cov­ered 62.9 mil­lion ben­e­fi­ciary farm­ers, sec­ond 36.3 mil­lion and third 721,982

The agri­cul­ture min­istry has se­cured ap­proval for a scheme to cre­ate 10,000 farmer pro­ducer or­gan­i­sa­tions (FPOs)

A pro­posal for the re­vamp of the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yo­jana has been for­warded to the states (since agri­cul­ture is a state sub­ject)

En­rol­ments for the pen­sion scheme for small/ mar­ginal farm­ers started. By Au­gust 30, 536,637 were en­listed.

Is It Enough?

Ac­cord­ing to a NITI Aayog pa­per, in real terms, farm­ers’ in­comes grew at just 0.44 per cent per year be­tween 2011 and 2016. Con­sider the snail-like progress in agri­cul­ture growth. In 2018-19, agri­cul­ture and al­lied ac­tiv­i­ties growth is es­ti­mated at 2.7 per cent, down from 5 per cent in 2017-18. With such a low growth rate, cou­pled with the eco­nomic slow­down and fee­ble growth in farmer in­comes, the mea­sures so far will only add to short-term re­lief.

The Un­fin­ished Agenda

The fo­cus of agri poli­cies must shift from pro­duc­tion per se to farm­ers’ liveli­hoods

De­spite promises of min­i­mum sup­port prices (MSP) plus 50 per cent to the farm­ers, pro­cure­ment of grains and com­modi­ties un­der MSP is alarm­ingly low in most states

Mea­sures needed to help farm­ers cope with the grow­ing risks of weather, price volatil­ity and lack of timely credit avail­abil­ity

Agri mar­kets need bet­ter in­fra­struc­ture and must be opened to greater com­pe­ti­tion if farm­ers are to re­alise bet­ter re­turns for their pro­duce

Agri­cul­tural poli­cies must ben­e­fit gen­uine farm­ers, not mid­dle­men, as is the case to­day in most states

Poli­cies to im­prove ef­fi­ciency of land/ wa­ter use needed to con­serve crit­i­cal re­sources

SMIL­ING ACRES Farm­ers in Mo­han­lal­ganj, Luc­know

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